The USS Honolulu (CL-48) was a Brooklyn-class light cruiser laid down on December 9, 1935, and launched on August 26, 1937. It was commissioned on June 15, the following year under Capt. Oscar Smith’s command with the hull number CL-48 and served in the U.S. Navy for 9 years until it was decommissioned on February 3, 1947. During its activities, the ship carried a complement of 868 people on board and had its main missions in Australia, Manus, New Georgia, Kiska, Espiritu Santo, Guadalcanal, Leyte, and San Diego. The ship was repaired in Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard after the Japanese attack. After decommissioning, the ship was struck from the Navy List on March 1, 1959, and sold for scrapping the same year to Bethlehem Steel. For the services brought to the country during World War II, the USS Honolulu received 8 battle stars.
Because asbestos is particularly resistant to chemical and thermal degradations, it was included in hundreds of products used in U.S. Navy ships. Asbestos has the ability to break down into microscopically thin fibers. These fibers are so small they can remain airborne for long periods of time after they were initially disturbed. Small, fine fibers are more likely to be inhaled than coarse fibers because of their ability to remain suspended in the air for longer.